Designer Pan Heyun took the internet by storm when his fall winter 2022 collection went viral. Titled, “Concealable Zone,” Heyun took inspiration from identity constructs, disguises, artist Antony Gormley, and how to literally disappear. This unusual approach resulted in a futuristic, deconstructed, and downright eye-catching runway show. We caught up with the young designer to learn more about the concept and his approach to design.
Tell us about how you first became interested in fashion?
It’s been a great opportunity to find fashion. In fact, I never had an obsession with it. It all began when my friends invited me to participate in a fashion competition. That was the first time I seriously created garments. It made me feel full of power for a moment.
Growing up, I studied painting. I’m still very interested in illustration and photography, so it often inspires my designs. I think painting, photography and fashion are inseparable. They are all interlinked art forms and express rational understandings of aesthetics.
The concealable zone
The tailoring in AW22 is phenomenal and very different from what we’ve seen in menswear. What is the Concealable Zone? How did you arrive at these designs?
“Concealable Zone” takes inspiration from an article titled, “How to disappear in America without a trace” (2016). It mentions that some people disguise themselves in order to escape the pressure and neglect around them. It goes on to analyze the steps of how to hide your identity. Furthermore, this is divided into hiding and concealment and then on how to establish a virtual image.
I studied the relationship between self-protection and concealment from the perspective of emotional neglect.Pan Heyun, fashion designer
Based on this concept, I started my master project and subsequent pattern cutting and color methodology. I also found inspiration in artist Antony Gormley. He explores the relationship between human body and space. Gormley believes that the body actually builds space. That the human body is “embodied figments,” bound by the contradiction between embodiment and figment structure.
Therefore, the structural points of human body movement in space can form an unstable transformation state, forming two forms of reality and fiction. This concept promotes the innovation and development of the garment pattern cutting of the project.
The garment and body
Suiting has long been conservative and almost something of an anti-fashion statement. Here we see the suit and tailoring become more expressive in a powerful statement. How do you see these designs opening up the conversation for men’s fashion?
As a designer, I think the body is the center, which is the reference and starting point of fashion design. Whether male or female, the body is the beginning of everything. In this “Concealable Zone” project, I mainly study the important role of the garment covering and exposing the body.
To some extent, the exposed parts of clothing for people are related to their “impression of others” in society. The visibility and invisibility of the human body are studied from the perspective of emotional neglect. The exposed part of the skin, the degree of exposure and the coverage of clothes affect people’s objective perception to a great extent.
I hope that design is not only a means of making a living, but also a dazzling moment in life!
Transforming the body
I think garments can transform the body, and the pattern cutting method of fashion has many elements to create body space. In addition, the body can be understood as a journey between one fixed point and another. This means that the appearance of the body is affected by invisible movement, which changes with perception and defines itself according to the movement point of the replacement body. Therefore, the fluidity of the human body can change the structure of garments and vice-versa, within a certain range.
The fluidity of the human body can change the structure of garments, and the garment structure can shape the body shape.Pan Heyun, fashion designer
I hope to express the relationship between garment, body and men themselves through this collection. You know, people’s first impression of strangers is based on collecting visual information such as their appearance and behavior. Damhorst pointed out that a person’s clothes can convey extensive and complex information which affects their first impression in the eyes of others. At the same time, garments can also change and supplement the body. Therefore, I hope the public can think about the relationship between garment and the Masculine body through my design.
Finding inspiration in nature
Color and structure seem inseparable for you. Can you talk about this aspect?
I studied the relationship between self-protection and concealment from the perspective of emotional neglect. It is mentioned in “Camouflage,” that in nature creatures hide and protect themselves by creating hallucinations. Moreover, this is a biological protection mechanism.
According to my investigation, the color method of this project comes from the camouflage of insects. The camouflage system coexists with the environment. For example, a butterfly called “Kallima inachus” has different colors inside and outside its wings. The outside is similar to the yellowish brown of trees, while the inside wings are bright blue.
Based on this concept, this project integrates fabric and color to produce bonded fabrics with different colors. Therefore, the exterior color of my fabric is dark or gray, while the interior is usually bright color. The colors in my project are basically from nature and insects.
What was it like designing this collection? Seems like a lot of work!
I’ve been in a very busy state! [laughs] The overall pace of this project is very fast. Also because I designed not only garments but also shoes, accessories and bags. They are made using the same design method as clothes.
I think this project forced me to break through boundaries of my original design method, decompose and reorganize the garments structure through the investigation of the human body and clothing space. My understanding of design is refreshing again and again. For example, this year, I realized the importance of subtraction for design.
What are some of your influences outside of fashion?
Outside of fashion, I am very into photography. Sometimes I think photography is very pure. For me, it may be a way to record my life and a medium to transmit current emotions or feelings. I think photography contains temperature and emotion, even though it may not deliberately pursue a certain form of photography. In my design, it is a way to release emotion and absorb inspiration.
Creativity is the core of a brand
It’s very refreshing to see what you’re doing because the runway has become a very commercial place. There’s little innovation or risk taking. How do you see your designs through this lens?
Thank you for your approval and love. In the fashion industry, design and development is often accompanied by a lot of time and financial investment. Therefore, some energy is often wasted in creation.
However, I think creativity is also the soul and core of a brand. In the “Concealable Zone” collection, I emphasize the integration of concept and technology…explore laser cutting and other techniques. Finally, I integrate the fabric, color and stitching technique into the design methodology.
I hope to maintain enthusiasm in the future with my creations and brand development. Creating unique fashion aesthetics will become my central task in the future. Balancing business and creativity, continuing to surprise everyone, and combining sustainable development are also key. I hope that design is not only a means of making a living, but also a dazzling moment in life!
Are students like yourself aware of the risk that your designs will be co-opted or copied by big brands?
The answer is obvious, because design published on social media will inevitably be seen by more people. I don’t think we can prevent this from happening.
What we can do is to improve our awareness of prevention and protect some core design and production aspects. On the other hand, the appearance of copying and plagiarism can also reflect that the work is recognized. Therefore, my focus will be to continue to create innovative designs.
How can your audience support what you’re doing right now in light of this?
I’m glad audiences like and support my designs. Some influencers and artists are wearing my clothes. I’m very grateful. Now I’m developing the brand and preparing future projects. Huge thanks to everyone!